The Breed that Inspired the Masters
The Historical Andalusian
The Iberian horse, popularly known in the United States as the Andalusian, evolved in rugged and hilly areas of the Iberian peninsula (comprised of Spain where they call the breed the Pure Spanish Horse, and Portugal, where the breed is known as the Pure Blood Lusitano). Fighting for survival and grazing over this rough terrain led to the development of a strong, arched neck; a short-coupled and powerful body; hind legs positioned well under the body with strong hock action and natural impulsion; a natural ability for collection; and small, round hooves.
These attributes made the horse extremely agile, as well as forward moving. Some researchers believe that these horses were being ridden perhaps as early as 4,000 to 3,000 BC. When they Phoenicians arrived in Iberia in 2,000 BC and the Greeks in 1,000 BC, the Iberian cavalry was already a formidable foe, and the Iberian horse was regarded as a warhorse without equal. Homer mentions the Iberian horses in the Iliad, written about 1,100 BC. The famous Greek cavalry officer, Xenophon, highly praised the "gifted Iberian horses" and their role in helping Sparta defeat the Athenians around 450 BC. In the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), Hannibal defeated the invading Romans several times through the use of the Iberian cavalry. This military use of the Iberian horse continued unabated into the Middle Ages, with William the Conqueror ultimately riding an Andalusian horse is the Battle of Hastings in 1066. While hailed over the ages as "the premier war horse", the Iberian horse was also well-known for its trusting and kind disposition.
When heavily armored knights began to constitute the majority of the armed forces of Europe, the Andalusian was briefly displaced as the most popular warhorse. However, after the introduction of firearms, the Iberian horse once again became the mount of choice for royalty and cavalry officers. New means of riding were introduced, often drawn from the writings of Xenophon. The Iberian horse was the favorite choice of the new, rapid, agile mounted armies.
Soon thereafter, the Iberian horse became the "royal horse of Europe", present at every royal court. Grand riding academies were formed in countries all across Europe, including Austria, France, Italy and Germany. It was in these academies where dressage and high school riding evolved and flourished. The Iberian horse was the favored mount of these academies because of its impulsion, forward motion, and catlike agility. In 1667, the Duke of Newcastle wrote of the Andalusian," ... It is the noblest horse in the world, the most beautiful that can be. He is of great spirit and of great courage and docile; hath the proudest trot and the best action in his trot, the loftiest gallop, and is the lovingest and gentlest horse, and the fittest of all for a king in his day of triumph."
The Andalusian possesses a proud but docile temperament; even stallions are handled by women and children. The Andalusian is sensitive and particularly intelligent, responsive, and cooperative, and learns quickly and easily when treated with respect and care.
INTERNATIONAL ANDALUSIAN AND LUSITANO HORSE ASSOCIATION, DEDICATED TO PRESERVING
THE IBERIAN HORSE IDEAL
In 1994, the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association initiated an in-depth education program for owners, breeders, and judges aimed at preserving the historical conformation and temperament of the Andalusian horse. The clinics focus on the unique conformational characteristics of the breed and their relationship to the athletic abilities of the horse.
At the horse shows sanctioned by the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association, halter judging is performed using a rigorous conformational, movement, and temperament standard aimed at preserving the Iberian horse ideal. Attendance at a judge's clinic is mandatory before a person is qualified to judge halter classes at an IALHA sanctioned show.
The International Andalusian and Lustitano Horse Association brings together owners and breeders with interested public who wish to know more about the breed and where Andalusians can be seen and purchased. Dedicated to education, promotion, and preservation of the Andalusian breed, IALHA is the largest Andalusian member organization in the world, with over 1,000 members. In addition to sponsoring clinics and sanctioned shows, IALHA publishes a quarterly magazine and a quarterly newsletter, and an annual directory and handbook. Stud books are also available.